19th century carving is a fanciful glorification of His Excellency the Monkey
God in resplendent royal attire meticulously ornamented with delicate floral and
cloud motifs and wearing elegant black boots. With dignified formality he assumes
an imperial stance, his left foot poised on a cloud, long simian fingers raised
in a salute; his right hand rests on his hip and may have held an attribute. The
base is carved with a lotus and spiraling leaf forms, and the piece wears its
gilding lacily over a black lacquer ground. No chips or losses of wood.
status of the monkey in Buddhism is not unequivocal, for although he may be thought
ugly and deceitful, nevertheless he is worshipped popularly for his power to drive
away evil and sorcery and to bestow health, protection and success. The monkey
was worshipped first in India, where an emissary of a Tang Dynasty Emperor had
been dispatched to obtain the Sacred Books of the Buddhist religion. In this quest
he was aided by a monkey and in gratitude the emperor bestowed upon the monkey
the title of “Great Sage Equal to Heaven.” and “His Excellency, the Holy King,“
whose birthday is celebrated by all classes of society on the 23rd day of the
second Chinese month.